New WKCTC President Aiming High and Providing Access
UCAH, KY November 3, 2016 One month into his tenure as West Kentucky Community and Technical College president, Dr. Anton Reece described his definition of educators Thursday to an audience of business and community leaders, educators and secondary students.
There are four types of educators in the world, Dr. Reece said at the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerces Power In Partnership breakfast November 3 at the Julian Carroll Convention Center. (There are) those who watch things happen; those who let things happen; those who asked what happened; and those that make things happen. Lets make things happen.
Before being named WKCTCs second president, Dr. Reece served more than 26 years in higher education, beginning his career in 1990 at the former Paducah Community College as a minority affairs coordinator and counselor, advancing to WKCTC's dean of student affairs and enrollment. For the past 13 years, he has successfully served students in various roles at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Praising the foundation and legacy left to him by WKCTC president emeritus Barbara Veazey, Dr. Reece said he was humbled to follow in her footsteps but also excited to be at a college that has been recognized by the Aspen Institute four consecutive times as one of the top community colleges in the nation. To get that national recognition, consistently, speaks to the quality of what is happening at WKCTC, he said, and thats clearly reflected in the excellent faculty, staff and administration.
The chambers Salute to Education breakfast not only brought out a record crowd it also was an opportunity for area students from Paducah Public Schools, McCracken County Public Schools, the St. Mary School System, Community Christian Academy, Paducah Area Technical School and PATCH, representing home school students to showcase their students accomplishments through a host of displays. While recognizing the youth in the audience, Dr. Reece, keynote speaker for the event, also pointed out the educational opportunities available to them that not all young people in the world have.
Growing up one of five children in Barbados, Dr. Reece said he saw his middle class family thrusted into poverty once his parents divorced. He said part of where his passion for education was born was in the struggles he faced in growing up on the Caribbean Island where seeking higher education was not guaranteed but instead where access was often deferred by barriers.
When you come out of an environment where you recognize and realize that not a lot of people get the opportunity to get access to higher education, it does something to you, Dr. Reece said. I understand very clearly about access to education; that it is something that we sometimes take for granted (in America).
Despite declining national enrollment decline in community and technical colleges the fall enrollment at WKCTC on November 1, the official date fall enrollment is recorded for the college, was at 6,147 a two percent increase over last years enrollment.
"We want to continue to build on that, but we also understand that along with growth and access, as the state shifts to this performance-based approach, it is important that we meet our pledge in supporting students through their journey," Dr. Reece said.One of the major commitments Dr. Reece said he wants to see is for WKCTC to continue to build and expand its efforts to provide access to higher education throughout the Jackson Purchase region. Its unacceptable in 2016 that we do not continue to do that, and beyond that, if we are going to be a world class region, we have to be sure that we are providing access to all citizens, he said.
Registration for new classes at WKCTC is underway now. Spring classes begin January 9, 2017.